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Environmental group rings warning bells over Aussie Co. plan to mine limonite in Mannar Island

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by Ifham Nizam

There would be significant environmental damage to the Mannar Island if an Australian mining company was allowed to carry out proposed limonite sand mining there, Dr. Ravindra Kariaywasam of the Centre for Environment and Nature Studies (CENS), warned yesterday.

Kariaywasam told The Island: “The Company is planning to mine an area of the island that is 2 km wide and about 8 km long. It started preliminary assessment with small-scale drilling on the island in 2015. It drilled more than 4.000 exploratory holes without the permission of the owners of the lands.  The deepest holes is about 12 metres deep.”

The 26km long Mannar Island has rich deposits of the mineral limonite in its sand, which is the main source of titanium dioxide that has a wide range of applications, including paint, sunscreen, and food colouring.

Kariaywasam said that the mining project would inflict irreparable damage to the water table in the island. There was the risk of contaminating the drinking water with sea water during mining, affecting tens of thousands of residents who depend on fishing and other primary industries for their livelihoods, he said.

“Mannar Island is a low-lying coastal area prone to natural hazards such as flash floods, cyclones and sea level rise. Although the company has not received environmental approvals and or a mining licence, it is aggressively seeking investors for their sand mining operation, claiming that the operation is a simple, low impact mining process.”

However, it was a false assertion, Kariyawasam said. The mining would cause many  social, ecological and economic consequences. Those include the destruction of traditional fishing grounds and livelihoods, increasing salinity of wells and groundwater, destruction of old palmyrah groves, habitat damage of Mannar’s significant migratory bird population, devastation of the tourist industry and the adverse impact on historical sites.



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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